Dunleavy appoints new attorney general

Sniffen held the position in an acting capacity following the resignation of Kevin Clarkson.

  • By BECKY BOHRER Associated Press
  • Monday, January 18, 2021 10:39pm
  • News


Associated Press

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed Clyde “Ed” Sniffen attorney general Monday, a role that Sniffen, a longtime state Department of Law attorney, has held in an acting capacity following the resignation of Kevin Clarkson.

Clarkson in August submitted his resignation for what he called a “lapse of judgment” after details of text messages he sent to another state employee were revealed.

Sniffen told The Associated Press he thinks having an attorney general picked from the department’s ranks helps with morale, citing his understanding of the department, experience and familiarity with the range of legal issues the department has handled.

He joined the department in 2000, and has held positions including working in the consumer protection unit and as a chief assistant attorney general and deputy attorney general, according to a bio released by Dunleavy’s office. Before that, he was in private practice.

The outgoing chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Matt Claman, an attorney, praised Sniffen’s experience and called him a “straight shooter.” But Claman said he wanted to hear from Sniffen on issues such as why the state sought to join with those supporting Texas in its effort to set aside the 62 electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“I want to hear that and kind of reflect on those things,” said Claman, an Anchorage Democrat.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Texas did not have the legal right to sue those states. Biden will be sworn in as president on Wednesday.

Sniffen said it was “entirely appropriate to ask the court to just take a look at it, to see if this election was fair. … We supported a brief that asked the court to just take a look at those issues. The court ultimately decided not to take a look at them.”

Alaska was not successful in formally signing onto a friend of the court brief but submitted a letter expressing its support, he said. Sniffen declined to go into detail about his discussions with Dunleavy, a Republican, on the matter, but said they spoke about it and “came to the decision that this was something that we thought was appropriate to do.”

Sniffen said the election is over. “Joe Biden is the winner. I don’t think anyone can question that. I think numerous courts have taken a look at that now. The Supreme Court has weighed in,” Sniffen said. “Absolutely, it’s time to confirm Joe Biden as our next president and move on.”

When it comes to the election held in Alaska, “we thought the integrity of the election was sound,” he said.

Sniffen said he hopes to attract more people to join the department and wants to build-up its in-house expertise and depth of experience to handle more complicated cases, dealing with natural resources as well as constitutional and environmental issues rather than relying on outside counsel.

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